Suck it and see

26 Sep, 13

Are the days of the focal extractor over?

The décor cooker hood used to be the centre point of every ‘on-trend’ kitchen scheme, and the blingier the better. But with the introduction of the concealed extractor, from downdrafts through to built-in ceiling models, does it suggest a move away from decoration to more subtle specification? Howard Bogod of Elica comments: “Currently we are in a time when, in terms of style, almost anything goes. There has been a great divergence in style from those who want everything concealed and minimalist at one end, to those who want to make a design feature out of some or all of their appliances that others would choose to conceal.”


Decor losing share

Although focal hoods are still leading in sales, there reigns some debate over their popularity. Director of Extractair, David Holmes says “between 80-90%” of its sales are for focal extraction However, some see it as more evenly split. Andrew Hegarty of Pando says: “Currently the majority of Pando’s sales are for focal extractors – but only just. It’s probably around the 60-40 mark. However, the introduction of downdraft and recessed models have been received very well by designers and specifiers and we wouldn’t be surprised if sales move towards a 50-50 situation.”

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Concealed fastest growing

The subtleties of concealed extraction seem to be winning through, as it is becoming the fastest-growing cooker hood sale. And leading the charge, over the past few years, seems to have been the downdraft extractor. Sales and marketing director of De Dietrich Kitchen Appliances, Richard Walker says: “Over the past six years, the Downdraft Extractor has become a perennially popular design choice for open plan kitchens, and as more manufacturers feature them in their appliance portfolios, the sector continues to expand. While it has been always focused at the top-end, we expect to see more models enter the middle market sector over the next three years.”


Drawback of downdraft

However, the planning requirements of these extractors and choice of hob may be that a downdraft is not the most suitable choice.  Alice Canale of Euroline Sales & Marketing questions: “Is there enough cupboard space? Downdrafts need to be installed inside cabinetry and this includes making space for the motor, not just the extractor itself?”

She further suggests that designers should pay attention to whether a downdraft is capable of working with a gas hob, as the flame may get pulled towards the extraction. While Andrew says the format of hob can also influence the extraction a designer has to use: “Downdraft extraction is not always that effective with a hob that has a ‘grid’ formation. They are, as a rule, better with domino and hob ‘strips’.”


Rise of built-in ceiling

But where downdraft may falter in terms of specification; industry experts believe built-in ceiling hoods may win through for discrete extraction.Mike Heath, marketing manager of Blanco, adds: “I believe they are of greater interest than downdraft models. They are, for instance, very much a space-saving choice, as they don’t take any worktop space, they are unobtrusive and they create a complete sightline across the kitchen and into the dining area, in the case of open plan kitchens designed for family living.”

Blending extraction into the environment has also been achieved by combining it into the design of the hob. Caple previewed a model combining a downdraft with hob at kbbLDN, while German manufacturer Bora has already introduced its integrated hob with extractor into the UK.

Certainly, there is now more extraction choice than ever to meet the client’s needs and match their design wants. Whether, they want it ‘out there’ or inconspicuous – certainly the days of a default choice are over.  

The full article appears in the October 2013 issue of Kitchens & Bathrooms News